Arizona: Coconino National Forest managing two less than full suppression fires

(Originally published at 9:48 a.m. MDT May 24, 2016)

Map Cowboy Mormon Fires
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Cowboy and Mormon Fires south of Flagstaff, Arizona. The brown and red dots represent heat during the 24 hours ending at 3:07 a.m. MDT May 24, 2016.

The Coconino National Forest is managing two lightning-caused fires south of Flagstaff, Arizona. Named the Cowboy and Mormon Fires, they were reported on May 17 and 15, respectively. The Forest management staff has decided that they will use a less than full suppression strategy for both.

The maximum management area (MMA) for the Cowboy Fire, 8 miles south of Flagstaff, is 3,425 acres, with about four miles of the possible perimeter being very close to Interstate 17. The fire has been very active over the last 24 hours. The U.S. Forest Service reported on Monday that the fire had burned 5 acres, but using recent satellite data our very unofficial calculations show that it has burned approximately 400 acres.

Maximum Management Area Cowboy Fire
Maximum Management Area for the Cowboy Fire. The USFS expects the fire will not exceed this area. USFS.

Forest Service officials intend to limit the Mormon Fire, 16 miles southeast of Flagstaff, to 11,664 acres. It has also been active in the last 24 hours but not as much as the Cowboy Fire. The agency reports that as of Monday the fire had burned 350 acres.

Maximum Management Area Mormon Fire
Maximum Management Area for the Mormon Fire. The USFS expects the fire will not exceed this area. USFS.

It will be interesting to see how the partially greened-up vegetation on these fires at 7,000 feet elevation will be affected by the strong southwest winds that are predicted for the rest of this week. On Tuesday the wind forecast is 24 mph gusting to 39, along with a relative humidity of 24 percent and a temperature of 61 degrees. Wednesday through Sunday the forecast calls for winds of 12 to 18 mph gusting at 20 to 30 mph. There is very little chance of rain this week.

Cowboy Fire
Cowboy Fire as seen from Lake Mary, May 23, 2016. USFS photo by Brady Smith

Cowboy fire